Edited by Silvia Bigliazzi
[Shakespeare in European Culture 2] 2020
► pp. 95–145
Chapter 3. Fascist crises
Shakespeare, ‘thou art mighty yet!’
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was a play that Italian Fascism accurately exploited during various transitions in the history of its regime. Although in many respects a difficult play, full of thorny ambiguities for Fascist ideology, it offered good possibilities for propaganda, if appositely manipulated, at least until the Ethiopian Empire was proclaimed. This chapter contends that Shakespeare’s fortune with Fascism coincides with some of the most critical phases in the transformation and establishment of Fascist power between 1924–1925 and 1939. It also argues that although after the 1935 Maxentius production, and the 1936 Genoa performance of Malipiero’s opera drawn from Julius Caesar, its fortune suddenly dropped, the play continued to haunt the Italian stages. It became the ‘Stone Guest’ of other subsequent Italian Caesar plays which sought to erase its memory in order to contribute to new propaganda trends. By also exploring practices of manipulation and censorial excision, the essay discusses how Shakespeare offered at the time the litmus test of critical moments in the history of the Fascist regime.